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Creativity Productivity & Work

Reexamining the Kiss Principle

“Keep it simple and stupid.” That was the acronym coined by aircraft engineer Clarence Johnson during the early 1930s. He proposed the “H” style tail for airplanes which helped stabilize flight.

Keeping it simple is always easier said than done. What may appear visually simple, took a deduction of complex details.

We don’t get to simplicity without amassing a pile of disparate parts first and then building shitty first drafts.

Complexity is often hidden within the design — such as the case with Apple products and apps like Instagram which appear simple on the outside but contain convoluted architecture and code on the inside.  

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Leonardo da Vinci, who painted over pieces that didn’t meet expectations. Artists like Pablo Picasso and writers like Ernest Hemingway edited down their pieces, again and again, to reduce their craft into the most practicable and understood forms.

Erasing difficulties requires patience of experimentation. It takes both head and heart work to minimize the unnecessary while maximizing utility in powerfully simple ways.

With a bit more curiosity and execution, we can turn less into more.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

It’s never too late to do something incredible

Everything good takes time.

We have to get comfortable with the idea that the work worth doing almost always never comes to fruition immediately.

Our craft is also likely to be misunderstood for long periods. There will be periods of self-doubt and chapters of confusion, all signals that the muse wants us to keep going.

If we’re 100% certain about where we’re headed, then we need a little more nuance and complexity in our life.

Being vulnerable and taking on challenges fuel aliveness, preventing one from getting too satisfied with results.

As the Japanese artist Hokusai said:

“Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.”

Hokusai

If we work on something long enough, it should look just as simple and confounding as when we first found it.

Categories
Arts Creativity

The Olivetti Valentine typewriter

An icon of 1960s pop-art design, the Olivetti Valentine typewriter was designed by Italian architect Ettore Sottsass and British designer Perry Ellis for the Italian company, Olivetti.

Sottsass covered the typewriter in red “so as not to remind anyone of monotonous working hours.” Its iconic red color was a precursor to the iMac, a machine that also differentiated itself from other computer products by offering a panoply of vibrant colors.

The Olivetti Valentine typewriter
via Twitter

The late great music icon David Bowie was known to have one of the Olivetti Valentine typewriters in his own private collection.

The typewriter debuted on 14 February 1969, hence the name ‘Valentine’ and also existed in a neutral gray color as seen below.

The Olivetti Valentine typewriter
The Olivetti Valentine typewriter
The Olivetti Valentine typewriter
Categories
Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy

Chaos and structure

There’s beauty in chaos — when the outcome is limitless, ripe with multiple interpretations. Thus is nature.

It is structure that intends to display meaning. The mind stops guessing at identification, shielded with the brain’s umbrella from the books of rain.

Certain things require definition

Stairs need to be intuitive enough to walk and up and down. However, silly putty asks to be flexed and misunderstood. Both are pieces of art, finished or unfinished.

Art requires mixing materials. The end product just needs to work, perfect or carefully disorganized.

The freedom to create is also the freedom to appear unfinished, spaces left vacant for the curious mind to fill in. “One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star,” said Nietzsche.

One never overcomes the chaos — they merely live in it.

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Arts Creativity Writing

Why Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward

Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward (mirror writing) because he didn’t want others stealing his ideas. Writes Da Vinci biographer Rachel A. Koestler-Grack:

“The observations in his notebooks were written in such a way that they could be read only by holding the books up to a mirror.”

But did a genius who combined art and science so brilliantly really need to hide his work? Perhaps it was practical: as a lefty, he didn’t want to smudge the ink. As a contrarian, Da Vinci also strived to be different. As blogger Walker’s Chapters writes:

“Do you really think that a man as clever as Leonardo thought it was a good way to prevent people from reading his notes? This man, this genius, if he truly wanted to make his notes readable only to himself, he would’ve invented an entirely new language for this purpose. We’re talking about a dude who conceptualized parachutes even before helicopters were a thing.”

Read more: Why Did Leonardo da Vinci Write Backwards? A Look Into the Ultimate Renaissance Man’s “Mirror Writing”

Categories
Arts Creativity Productivity & Work

Doing something is better than doing nothing

A lot of people never start because of the fear of imperfection. But when it comes to creating, something is better than nothing.

That something could be as little as a blog post — private or public — a diary entry, a podcast, a simple doodle, or if you prefer to speak through images, an Instagram post.

The habit of making and sharing your art builds confidence. Of course, there will always be others that want to put a dent in your endeavors but most people are encouraging.

Show up and do the work

Even more, two things happen when you show up to produce every day.

1. Your craft improves.

2. You establish an archive of work to pull from.

Once your daily practice of making art is set in the stone and you’ve kicked down the frustration barrier that prevents so many from being consistent, then you can go back and pull inspiration from your work.

“The unknown was my compass.”

Anais Nin

New ideas will bloom from the stems of your first drafts, especially the shitty ones. You’ll start making connections and flag concepts that need further elaboration or clarification.

The best thinking emerges when you give your work time to breathe. Reflection increases the sophistication of one’s knowledge and experience.

Through this journey, it’ll start to become clear what types of trade you enjoy, what you want to be known for, and where you want to spend the most time improving.

Creativity is not rocket science. But it requires diligence, impatience with action, and patience with trial and error.

The professional shows up on both the good days and the bad days to hack away at their inner genie. There are zero shortcuts to building quality and long-lasting output.

gif by youngcoconut